If your income or living situation changes — or if circumstances change for your ex — your existing child support order may no longer be workable.
Fortunately, the terms of your order are not set in stone. If either of you is having trouble making ends meet under the current arrangement, the payments may be modified. Here’s how to go about changing a child support order in Utah.
Legal Grounds for Modifying Child Support in Utah
Utah laws set specific rules on when and how a support order can be modified. You can file a motion to modify child support if:
- The support was ordered three or more years ago
- The amount ordered and the amount required by the current guidelines permanently differ by at least 10 percent
- The proposed payment amount meets the current state guidelines
If the proposed change in support is not consistent with the current guidelines, you can file a petition — rather than a motion — to modify the order. A support order can also be modified by petition if:
- The support was ordered less than three years ago
- The income of one party has changed by at least 30 percent
- There has been a material change in custody, relative wealth, employment potential, support responsibilities or certain other unavoidable expenses that result in a permanent difference of at least 15 percent between the existing payment amount and the current state guidelines
Work with Your Ex to Reach a New Child Support Agreement
Before filing a motion or petition to modify child support, however, you may want to consider trying to work out new, mutually acceptable payment terms with your ex. If you can agree to a new arrangement without involving the Utah court system, you’ll both save on the costs of litigation.
If working together is out of the question, you may want to try mediation. Taking this approach is typically less expensive than taking the matter to court.
Modify the Child Support Order Through the Utah Court System
When working with your ex is impossible, going back to court is your only option. Before doing so, however, carefully document the reasons for the change in support terms.
No matter what is prompting your need to modify the support terms, you must be able to prove it to the court. Without sufficient documentation, your request will likely be denied. And in the meantime, if you’re responsible for making payments, keep doing so — or try to stay current — as that will show the judge you’re making a strong effort to take care of your responsibilities.
Also, as soon as you or your ex starts to have trouble making payments, act quickly to avoid the support going into arrears. Payments in arrears stay that way until they’re paid off — the judge cannot wipe them away, and they cannot be discharged through bankruptcy.
If you need to modify a child support order, consulting with a local legal professional is the best way to ensure a successful outcome. For expert advice and guidance in northern Utah, turn to Rex B. Bushman, attorney at law.
With decades of experience navigating the Utah court system, Rex B. Bushman has the legal expertise to help you secure a change in the terms of your child support order. To schedule a free consultation, call today.